Getting Schooled in Sin City: 2015 NAA Student Housing Conference Recap | National Apartment Association

Getting Schooled in Sin City: 2015 NAA Student Housing Conference Recap

You’re all liars.

That was my big take-away from the first day of the 2015 NAA Student Housing Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas, after panelist Melanie Ling asked everyone who’s ever tried online dating to raise their hands.

Approximately five people did so—half of them mumbling things like “I mean, just once,” or “I’m so, so lonely.” OK, maybe not their exact words. Another 20 people—myself included—were perfectly content to lie and deny.

But secretly, we all got Ling’s analogy—that shopping for an apartment is a lot like shopping for a significant other online. People are looking for “the one” and asking “what can you bring to my life?” This goes for people and apartments. On your end, you have to show them why you’re special.

The pressure of it all!

Of course, there were plenty of other highlights from yesterday’s conference:

1. Ann Rhoades kicked things off with an enlightening view on corporate culture at the opening general session luncheon. Among her points, Rhoades emphasized the importance of a fun work environment. At Southwest, she says hiring managers even ask job candidates to give them an example of a time they used their sense of humor in a difficult situation.

Um, every day of my awkward life.

Rhoades also explained that culture is a collection of the company’s values. If employees’ behaviors don’t reflect those values, it’s not the right fit for you or for them. Zappos goes so far as to give employees who aren’t working out one month’s pay just to leave.

I’ll pause while you run to the ATM.

2. During the education session, “The Parent Trap: Effectively Managing Parent Expectations,” one panelist said his company created video tutorials to teach college residents how to do super difficult tasks, such as cleaning out the lint trap in the dryer.

My brother once neglected to wash his sheets for an entire semester in college, so this only confirms my suspicions that all 19-year-old boys are animals.

Today’s student housing environment is worlds away from what it used to be. Panelist Julie Bonnin said when she went off to college, her mom basically told her to “figure it out,” and didn’t see her again until Thanksgiving.

And then came the helicopter parents. Today, it’s all about walking the line of communicating with your customers—usually the parents—while still taking care of your residents.

3. The Exposition opened later in the day, coinciding with a welcome reception for all attendees. Because no one snacked enough up until that point. In between bites of food, connections were made with some of NAA’s best supplier partners.

There were many more highlights from the first day, but…you just had to be there.

With all my money still in my pocket, here’s to another day in Vegas!